How to Rank for “Near Me” Searches
Once upon a time, the Internet was all about connecting customers with businesses anywhere – around the region, the state, or across the planet. But things have changed. While the Internet is still the great leveler, allowing companies large and small to compete on more even footing, the fact remains that consumers have started using it to find local businesses to shop at. To make the most of that trend, you need to ensure that you’re able to show up in “near me” searches by locals.
Getting Local With Google Rankings
There are three primary metrics that outweigh anything else when it comes to “near me” local searches, according to Google. These metrics are:
What does each of these metrics mean and how can you influence them to make sure customers can find you when they want to?
Relevance is the easiest one to figure out. If a customer is shopping for shoes, and you sell pizza, there is no reason your business should show up in their search. It’s not relevant. In terms of local search, you want to ensure that your website content closely matches what a user is searching for.
Pro Tip: Google recommends adding complete and detailed business information to optimize your Google My Business listing in order to help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
Distance is another important one. “Near” is somewhat subjective, but if your business is located 15 miles away from the searcher, then you’re not likely to show up in the search results unless there are very few relevant results closer at hand. The farther away you are from the user’s location (and the distance metrics from their device), the lower in the results you’ll show up.
The final attribute that really matters is prominence. This one is a little harder to quantify, as it touches on things like authority, brand image, customer ratings, etc. It’s really tied to the volume of information about your business found online. The more information out there, the more prominent your business seems. This includes the number of customer reviews, the number of backlinks to your site, and a great deal more.
Improve Your Business Prominence
Want to know how to rank for “near me” searches and draw in more customers? First, improve your prominence by getting your name, address, and phone number (abbreviated NAP) into local business directories.
Your NAP information is still extremely relevant to local shoppers. That’s why NAP is a significant portion of your online search ranking. Take advantage of this by using these steps.
1. Standardize Your NAP Data
Inconsistent NAP information will make search engines suspicious. Fix it up by:
Deciding on your standard NAP data and standard way to write it
Searching the web for any variations of your NAP information (such as by using Moz Local) and asking websites to update to your standard information
2. Creating Local Citations
Next, you can create new and varied local citations of your NAP data using these steps:
- Look up the most important local directories for your city and for your category
- Create and fill out your profile on those directories with your NAP data
How to Improve Your Local SEO
Local search optimization is similar to standard SEO (search engine optimization), with a few twists, which are split into the following categories:
1. Pick Local Keywords
Pick out keywords that are relevant to your business, product, and/or service and combine them with your local city or region. Then, put various keyword-city/region combos into your landing page:
- Title and headline
- Image data
Also, place a Google map that points to your business on your landing page.
2. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Many of your potential customers will do “near me” searches on their mobile device. That’s why you should convert your website to be mobile-friendly.
3. Get Relevant Local Links
Here’s a major part of how to rank for “near me” searches: Persuade other websites to talk about your website and link to it.
These other websites don’t have to be famous. They just have to be local websites that are in your industry or that discuss the type of products or services that you offer.
4. Compete for Local Citations
Local citations of your NAP data are very important to your rank. Fight for them! You can use these tactics and ideas:
Find out where your competitors have posted their NAP citations, and post yours there too
Use meeting services (like Meetup.com) to find nearby events that relate to your business, and sponsor those events in exchange for a link
Sign up to try to win local awards
Offer jobs or scholarships to local students to get links on higher education websites
Compile public data to create a helpful website for your community, and get press coverage of it
Set Your Business Apart on Google My Business
Do you really want to know how to optimize for “near me” searches? Then it’s time to master Google My Business (GMB). This feature lists your business in a special section to the side of search results, making your business look more prominent and official.
Take advantage of GMB using these steps:
- Search for your business on Google to find your GMB listing
- Follow the instructions to prove your identity to Google and take control of your listing
- Check and update the information in your listing
- Expand your listing with useful content
Use Google Posts
Within GMB, you can use Google Posts to directly post information to local search results and maps on Google. You can write about subjects such as your:
- Products and services
- Current deals
- Upcoming events
With Google’s Click-to-Call feature, you can add a clickable phone number to your Google Adwords ads, which will show up in Google search results occasionally based on normal Adwords bidding.
Allowing prospects to call you immediately by clicking on your link can increase your clickthrough rate and give you a better return on your ad investment.
How to Rank on Other Search Engines
Rank at the top of other search engines besides Google by getting back to the basics of SEO. Remember these tips:
- Research the simplest, most intuitive keywords and local searches that are relevant to your business
- Keywords are often in this format: “service” in “location” (e.g., “plumber in Boston”)
- Use your keywords naturally on your website’s body copy, meta description, subheadlines, URL, and so on
- Register your business on Bing Places and Apple Maps
Eat, Sleep, Optimize, Repeat
It can be tempting to add “near me” keywords to your site in an attempt to game the system and boost visibility. Unfortunately, that won’t work. In fact, it could lead to your site being blacklisted by Google. Focus, instead, on the three metrics above, plus optimizing your mobile website and responding to reviews.
2017 was the first year in which mobile searches trumped desktop and laptop-based searches. That trend is only increasing. More and more people are finding answers to their searches from a smartphone. Focus on adding features like Click-to-Call, Click-to-Chat, and others to help customers find and connect with you quickly.
Online reviews, particularly for local businesses, are more important than ever. Google regularly updates reviews to keep them front-and-center especially on mobile. But it’s not just about getting good reviews, you also need to worry about your rating and reputation, and the only way that can be handled is to actively manage your reviews.
Your website is one of the most important tools for ranking your business in “near me” local searches, but it’s not the only one. You should also use local business listing sites, respond regularly to reviews, and make sure your business listings are complete and up to date.